November 3, 2014

The great Charlie Pierce made his way to Iowa this week to cover the Senate race between Republican Joni Ernst and her Democratic challenger Bruce Braley and actually managed to ask Ernst a question before she told him she was done and was ready to talk to anyone else there who was not named Charlie Pierce.

We can't have one of those damned liberal reporters knocking her off of her rehearsed talking points, now can we?

Here's more from TPM who has the audio: Ernst Says It's Reporter's 'Opinion' One Person Has Ebola In America (AUDIO):

Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst very conspicuously blew off Esquire magazine's Charlie Pierce when he pressed her on her criticism of President Barack Obama's handling of Ebola in the United States.

Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, was pressed on her criticism during a back-and-forth with Esquire's Charles P. Pierce. The exchange happened during a stop in Newton, Iowa on Monday.

"We have an apathetic president," Ernst said to a crowd, according to The Washington Post's Ben Terris. After her speech she said Obama "is just standing back and letting things happen, he is reactive rather than proactive."

Ernst added "with Ebola, he’s been very hands off." And that's where the back-and-forth started with Pierce, a sports-writer-turned-commentator media personality and who is the author of four books, including "Idiot America." With Ernst, he asked her what Obama should have done differently.

"What should he have done about Ebola?" Pierce said. "One person in America has Ebola."

"OK, you’re the press and you’re giving me your opinion," Ernst responded.

"It’s not an opinion, only one person in America has it," Pierce interjected.

Ernst spokesman Alex Conant said that Ernst was saying with the "opinion" line that Pierce had already made up his mind about the election.

"The part where she says "you're giving me your opinion", she means that clearly this reporter already made up his mind about the election," Ernst said in an email to TPM. "You should be able to tell that from her tone in the audio -- I believe it was clear to the other reporters that were there."

"Yes, but he is the leader, he is the leader of our nation," Ernst said. "So what he can do is make sure that all of these agencies are coordinating together, to make sure he is sharing with the American people he cares about them, he cares about their safety."

"You don’t think he does?" Pierce said.

"I don’t know that he does, he hasn’t demonstrated that," Ernst said.

"You don’t think he’s demonstrated that he cares about the American people?" Pierce said.

"He hasn’t," Ernst said. "I’m done. So anybody else?"

Here's more from Pierce's blog at Esquire: Mornings With Joni Ernst:

It was the second stop on Joni Ernst's Just One Thing, 24-hour, Wingnuts Over Iowa Tour. It had begun that morning in Ankeny, at a bagel shop, and it had wound itself up through the sprawling, autumn-browned landscape up to the Newton Manufacturing Company, a century-old firm specializing in the production of promotional detritus for other businesses, large and small. If you're a feed company in Iowa, and your marketing team desperately needs bottle openers with your company's logo on them, this is the number to call. Ernst was joined at the plant by incumbent Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is ahead by a couple of dozen lengths, and by a gaggle of other candidates for other offices, including the intriguingly monickered Dr. Marianette Miller-Meeks, who has no strings to hold her down, to make her fret or to make her frown, and who is running for Congress despite the fact that the local Tea Party folks don't trust her, possibly because she's a doctor, and you know how those people are. Anyway, Ernst was clearly the star of the proceedings, and she was sailing through her stump speech when she said this:

"A couple of weeks ago," she said, "I finished up our 99-county tour. I visited all 99 counties of Iowa, and Iowans are telling me that Washington, D.C. is not working. That the president's failed policies are not working. Congressman [Bruce] Braley's perpetuation of these policies are not working. The higher taxes, the greater spending, the rising national debt, the insecurities we are facing in foreign policy and military affairs because we have and apathetic president who, like Congressman Braley, refuses to lead."

Go read the rest for Charlie's take on her campaign in Iowa and his encounter with Ernst.


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